When Sorcery! Part 1 ended, we were only just getting started on the adventure, and what a wonderful trip that was. Right away I was excited to see the ginormous city after beating the first game (multiple times) and bought the next installment the day it came out. Though the first game was a fantastic introduction, it surely made me wonder what the sequel could offer. What Sorcery! Part 2 provided, was an interesting diversion that still keeps the magic from Part 1 in more ways than just in its title. For newcomers, I would recommend reading the previous review, as these two games are in chronological order with the same character carried over from the last game. If this is the one you were interested in, then let us paint the city in any color you want! The choices are yours ones again.
To not spoil or even assume what choices you made in the last chapter, your journey has in any case taken you to the gigantic city known as Kahré, which you can’t avoid entering thanks to both the high walls and the strong river that goes through the town. This is an interesting change from the last game, as we are going from a naturalistic environment full of mythical creatures, to a city where the people are diverse in social status and mental health. There are still magical items and beings in this city, but the focus has gone over to the more social aspect than the mythical wonders from the last game. This provides a calm atmosphere, as this is a more familiar setting that has you read people’s behaviour and mentality, as opposed to just dealing with monsters and surviving in the wild. On the other hand though, it also creates good tension when you are not sure how to approach someone, providing fear through personalities and conversations, instead of the fantasy-setting itself. This is a very interesting take on the story and with how well all the dialogue and events are told, you will be enthralled.
This especially helps when the multiple pathways and options are still here, making it so you create and choose how events play out and all are engaging. Sadly, since you are in a town, many areas can feel too familiar due to the town not providing different cultures, but rather social statuses and traditional constructions such as churches, statues and a graveyard. It is definitely a nice change and the dialogue that pops up when you play dice-games or the deep description of every swing with your sword, are engaging and immersive. It is just a shame that the magic is toned down and the variety is not grand enough to make each area more diverse and memorable. This is of course only nitpicks as every interaction is engaging and a couple of locations can be interesting.
Story Score: 8.5/10
Care to gamble?
Like the last game, Sorcery! Part 2 is set up as a gamebook with multiple choices for each event and your journey being showcased with an overworld-map of the town. Every choice once again guides you to a new scenario completely different from the previous one, making encounters interesting for more reasons than just the well-written dialogues or descriptions. You are able to use acquired items for support, gold to purchase a stay at the inn or items for your journey, such as lanterns or new equipment, and rations for each day to keep up your health, so it is more than a traditional visual novel. Your health-meter, or stamina as it is called here, represents your health once again and when it reaches zero, it is game over.
With a title like Sorcery!, you of course have magic at your disposal which changes depending on the starsign that is present. Each starsign can heal or help you in dire situations if you pray to it, though you must wait for a while between your prayers otherwise you won’t be heard. You are also provided with different spells from them, since each starsign comes with different letters for you to use. You see, each spell requires three letters to create a spell and they come in vast variety, such as LAW to control beasts, ZAP to create lightning and so on. These are fun to experiment with and helpful throughout the journey, though like last game, will require stamina or perhaps an item to be performed, so there is a limit to how much you can use them.
Combat is not a big part of the game once again as more peaceful approaches will be a smarter way to go, especially in a crowded city. However, it is still as engaging as the last entry. The attack-meter returns which will determine how strong your swings with the sword can be. You and your opponent clash with an amount of your choosing and the highest one will damage the opponent, though the stronger attacks will deplete your attack-meter more . This makes it so you can’t attack recklessly and you must attack as little as possible or defend for minimum damage to restore more of the attack meter. This simple mechanic from the last game, still stands strong here, is easy to understand, and since you can’t see your opponent’s stamina, you are never safe and always on edge. The opponents will also differ in how they attack, so soldiers will be more tactical, while a beast will try to overpower you more quickly with constant attacks. Death is still not a big issue, as you can rewind time to undo certain events and battles. This is to keep in touch with the gamebook-aspect, but since I always got something new by sticking to my mistakes, I never found myself abusing this system.
A new element added to this game, is a popular gambling mini-game called Swindlestones that uses four-sided dices. You and your opponent take a certain amount of them, with four or five dices each being the norm. Then you throw the dices and guess how many dices of a certain number you have together, with the opponents dices not being visible. You increase the amount of the number on the dice or the amount of dices with the same number, with the latter being worth more, until one of you call the other and see if they are bluffing. If the amount of the die is correct, the one calling the bluff will lose one die, and vise versa should the bluff be correct. This continues until one player has no dices left and loses the game. This is very entertaining, and can be addictive despite being a small inclusion.
While clues are again an important part of this game, here they are given an actual menu for acquiring them and looking them up. This is a nice addition, however the game is too focused on the social aspects of events and choices, giving practical solutions like spells, items and similar, less of a foothold. It is not bad or neglected, but it can make the adventure more streamlined. Thankfully, due to how engaging and entertaining each conversation is, it stands strong and makes you at times forget that most of the game, you spent talking instead of acting. Despite wishing for something more to test your wisdom or creativity with, you still were taken on a nice stroll through town.
Gameplay Score: 7/10
Strolling through city
Though the entire game takes place in one city, it still provides quite diverse areas to visit and the map showcases this with small details in this grand town. Churches, inns, the docks, market, the slum, the graveyard and more, makes it still visually interesting by being varied and have clear landmarks. Going inside houses, will also provide a map of their own, which is a nice touch. The same artstyle from the last game is kept in tact, with a huge and colorful map with some 3D depths to higher and lower fields, and the characters and pictures to show areas, events and your position with are still in black and white with impressive attention to detail. This is again to keep in touch with traditional tabletop gaming, and it works here thanks to the clear amount of work and love put into this entry. The diversity between each location might not be strong enough to make you remember each part of the city, but you will definitely remember some of the more stand out locations, such as grand statues and temples.
The opening tune is beautiful and sets up the mood for the game quite well, by being both mysterious with low tunes, but also calming to provide a familiar and calm atmosphere, despite some tension. The rest of the game consist of atmospheric sounds you would hear in a medieval town, with horses and cartwheels passing by and people talking everywhere, with good variety depending on how crowded the area might be or what part of the city you are in. The tracks for special events, such as drums when you are in combat or the choire for when you cast a spell, is still present and strong as ever thanks to being a good contrast to the rest of the sounds you will hear.
Presentation Score: 9/10
Will you walk away a city in fire?
Like the last game, there is a good amount of replay-value, especially if you have a save from part 1, as the items, spells or possibly connections you acquired from the last game, will be carried over to this one. The city has enough diverse paths and interesting people to be worth a second playthrough, with or without the first game. On top of this, the New Game Plus also returns and extends the replay value even further with more secrets to uncover and more challenging encounters.
There is one unique feature to this game compared to the previous title however. Before you exit this town, you can decide on a good or a bad future for Kharé depending on if you found what is needed for it to be saved, meaning exploring, finding clues, and thinking thoroughly. This is a great extra, as you are free to walk out if you do not want to acquire the necessary elements for the better future of Kharé, however if you take on the challenge, you are set back in a previous timeline and can travel to the location you wish to, so backtracking is kept to a minimum. It can feel somewhat forced for a better ending when you have had your fill of this town, but this is thankfully optional and provides good replay value for those who wish for it.
Extra Score: 8/10
Sorcery! 2 provides a different approach to the journey and while not all changes are for the better, it is still a great entry that mixes up things enough to give it its own spin on the adventure. Changing the location to an urban setting provides a more social take, which is welcome, and the new dice-game is entertaining too. The fantasy and mystical parts are not as strong as they could have been and more practical solutions would have made your abilities and acquired items more interesting. However, with how wonderful the writing is, multiple paths to take, engaging conversations and some interesting constructions and fantasy-elements, the flaws’ are only what keeps this entry from being outstanding. Now it is simply stellar.